President Barack Obama is scolding U.S. leaders for taking a hard line against Syrian refugees fleeing ISIL in the Middle East while urging U.S. allies to help in the fight against the Islamic State. During a press conference in Antalya, Turkey, President Obama described ISIL as “the face of evil,” and “killers with fantasies of glory.”
“In terms of refugees, it’s clear that countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon — which are already bearing an extraordinary burden — cannot be expect to do so alone. At the same time, all of our countries have to ensure our security. And as President, my first priority is the safety of the American people.
And that’s why, even as we accept more refugees — including Syrians — we do so only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks. We also have to remember that many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves — that’s what what they’re fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.”
Obama added, “Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”
He also laid the blame for the current crisis squarely on Syrian leader Bashar Assad, whose rule he described as “brutal.”
President Obama’s call for nations, including the United States, to welcome refugees has caused a rift in within his own country. While several state leaders have expressed refusal to participate in resettlement efforts while criticizing Obama for being too soft on ISIL, others have chosen to accept refugees.
Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) agrees with President Obama’s stance on accepting more refugees. During an interview with PBS News Hour with Gwen Ifill, he implied that turning away Syrian refugees is un-American.
Turning away Syrian refugees “would be destroying what this country is supposed to be about,” in terms of the country’s history of welcoming political, religious, and ethnic refugees throughout the nation’s history.
Sanders and President Obama have both described ISIS as a group that is technologically savvy. Indeed, its leaders use a wide range of social media for recruitment purposes, including Twitter and Facebook.
The hacktivist group Anonymous recently released a video describing the loose-knit group’s intentions to expose and destroy known ISIL websites and accounts as possible via #OPISIS. Christian Science Monitor reports that Anonymous claims to have taken down 5,500 Twitter accounts of known ISIS operatives.
President Obama has not offered an opinion on Anon’s activities, and he likely won’t due to the group’s history of less-than-legal activities.
French journalist Nicolas Henin also commented on the group’s focus on technology and how well its members keep up with social media.
It struck me forcefully how technologically connected they are; they follow the news obsessively, but everything they see goes through their own filter. They are totally indoctrinated, clinging to all manner of conspiracy theories, never acknowledging the contradictions.
Henin also addressed the call for more aggression against the ISIS.
They will be heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism, of xenophobia; they will be drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media.
Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned towards finding supporting evidence. The pictures from Germany of people welcoming migrants will have been particularly troubling to them. Cohesion, tolerance — is is not what they want to see.
In other words, the last thing ISIL terrorists want is to see the world openly accepting Muslims as fellow human beings. The last thing its members want is to see members of Western society openly embracing and accepting Muslims as their neighbors and friends. Participating in a ground war or any other violence against ISIL only solidifies their resolve and recruitment efforts go up. Bombing them is not what will destroy them, but rather, a coming together of communities to support the very people ISIL want to recruit.
Henin, like President Obama, also believes that Bashar al-Assad is primarily responsible for the rise of ISIS in Syria.
“…so long as his regime is in place, ISIL cannot be eradicated.”
He contends that Assad must be taken out of power first, before ISIS can be eliminated.
Australian television host, Waleed Aly addressed the issue in much the same way as Henin. During his “Something We Should Talk About” segment on the show The Project, Aly pointedly described ISIS’s strategy and how non-Muslim societies are creating extremists without even realizing it.
Just as President Obama urged nations to open their arms to refugees, Aly argued that if Western countries and Australia turn their backs on Muslims and make enemies out of them, then they will have nowhere to turn but to ISIL.
We all need to come together. I know how that sounds. I know it is a cliche, but it is also true because it is exactly what ISIL doesn’t want.
He also noted that the terrorist organization is not nearly as strong as they want the public to think. It puts on a strong front as a way to put fear into the hearts of its enemies.
Essentially, what Aly and Henin have said goes directly against what most world leaders, including President Obama, have called for: a complete eradication of ISIS through targeted attacks. The governors of those 24 states who have turned their backs on Syrian refugees and President Obama’s call to help them may inadvertently be creating future ISIL extremists due to their fear mongering and intolerance.
[Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]